Day 12/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – Faith in Resurrection is faith in God’s love for the world [Part 1] – Fr. Matthew the Poor

Christ has Risen, Truly he has Risen.
This is the greeting of the resurrection. Together we will consider the power of the resurrection and its effect.

To rouse our spiritual awakening, the first question we ask is: What is the essence of the power of the resurrection?

Rather, what is the essence of the power of Christ’s death on the cross? Without hesitation, we answer according to the verse at the beginning of St John’s Gospel that it is God’s love to the world: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). God’s love to the world is what made Him give His only Son to the cross.

Consequently and inevitably faith in the death and resurrection of Christ, the essence of the creed of faith and redemption, is faith in God’s love for the world.

This results in a pragmatic simplification. God’s love is equal to the power of the sacrifice of death together with the power of the action of the resurrection.

Now I am addressing those who have knowledge of the principles of theology. The power of the act of death on the cross is the forgiveness of sins, and the power of the action of the resurrection from death is reconciliation with the Father and the gaining of righteousness with eternal life. The immediate result of God’s love for us is the mystery of the forgiveness of our sins, the offer of righteousness and eternal life. This is the essential truth on which we put all our focus today to declare that it is impossible for our sins to be forgiven without our realizing, evaluating and accepting God’s love for us and reciprocating this love with love! It is also impossible to make peace with God the Father and gain His righteousness and eternal life without growing into, coming to know and acquiring God’s love for us. Because, as we know, it is in God’s love that is manifest the mystery of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life!

How can we realize, evaluate, and accept God’s love for us? Christ revealed the means clearly in the Gospel. It is the primary relationship God required from man in order to bind together God and man. “And he (Jesus) said to him: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Mt 22:37-39).

In his First Epistle St John explains the basic relationship between God’s love for us and our love for God as follows: “We love Him, because he first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19 NKJV). St John also presented the negative: “He who does not love does not know God; for God is love” (1 Jn 4:8). St John then proves all that has been previously said: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him (herein lies a hint of the resurrection). In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins (herein lies a hint to the death of the cross)” (1 Jn 4:9, 10).

St John thus proved what we said about the forgiveness of sins and eternal life that exist and act in us through God’s love for us. For that reason Christ placed God’s command of love in the first and greatest place and that it must be with all the heart, soul and mind. Christ gives the reason with this equation: “He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him” (Jn 14:21). The only way to gain the power of God’s love is to love God in which the forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of our eternal life exist!

Now, dear friend don’t you find that it is impossible for us to claim we have faith in Christ’s death and resurrection, the core of Christian faith, unless our love for Christ is a true, sincere and effective love?

It is therefore the power of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus that is today manifest and effectual in those who truly love Jesus Christ with all their hearts, souls and minds! These are the hearts, souls and minds that are considered to have actually risen with Christ and live with eyes looking upwards. How? Is there an explanation?

[Fr Matta El-Meskeen, Christ is Risen Truly He has Risen]

To be continued tomorrow!

Day 11/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – The very cross you hate most is the one you must carry – Fr. Matthew the Poor

The shame that the cross symbolized, and which Christ bore as he departed the world, was the inevitable cost of the stand he had made. As a consequence the shame of crucifixion, to die in public, stripped of every dignity, with the addition of mockery and revenge through scourgings, beatings and being spat on, has become the symbol of the treatment that can be expected by anyone who has denied the world and sought only faithfulness to Christ.

Christ made this a general rule to be the primary consideration of anyone who intends leaving the world and follow Him: “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:27). “Follow me” (Mk 10:21). “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mk 8:34) “And he said to all, ‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23).

It is what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote: “Therefore let us go forth to him outside… and bear the abuse he endured” (Heb 13:13). Christ’s shame was the supreme example of scorn and humiliation. Each person will have his own particular cross. This means that every person will have his own shame that the world will fashion for him out of the very type of humiliation he hates the most.

Those who desire to follow the Lord do not shirk their cross but increase it and embellish it with other kinds of deprivations, mortifications of the flesh and with fasting, which submits the ego: “I afflicted myself with fasting” (Ps 35:13). We know from the Apostle’s words, from the lives of the saints, and from experience that inasmuch as a man experiences humiliation and dies both unintentionally and intentionally together, he will experience eternal life deep within him and live it day by day.

[Fr Matta El-Meskeen, Christ is Risen Truly He has Risen]

Day 10/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – Let us offer ourselves – St. Gregory the Theologian

Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him; yesterday I died with Him; today I am quickened with Him; yesterday I was buried with Him; today I rise with Him. But let us offer to Him Who suffered and rose again for us — you will think perhaps that I am going to say gold, or silver, or woven work or transparent and costly stones, the mere passing material of earth, that remains here below, and is for the most part always possessed by bad men, slaves of the world and of the Prince of the world. Let us offer ourselves, the possession most precious to God, and most fitting; let us give back to the Image what is made after the Image. Let us recognize our Dignity; let us honour our Archetype; let us know the power of the Mystery, and for what Christ died.

Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us. Let us become God’s for His sake, since He for ours became Man. He assumed the worse that He might give us the better; He became poor that we through His poverty might be rich; (2 Corinthians 8:9. He took upon Him the form of a servant that we might receive back our liberty; He came down that we might be exalted; He was tempted that we might conquer; He was dishonoured that He might glorify us; He died that He might save us; He ascended that He might draw to Himself us, who were lying low in the Fall of sin. Let us give all, offer all, to Him Who gave Himself a Ransom and a Reconciliation for us. But one can give nothing like oneself, understanding the Mystery, and becoming for His sake all that He became for ours.

As you see, He offers you a Shepherd; for this is what your Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for his sheep, is hoping and praying for, and he asks from you his subjects; and he gives you himself double instead of single, and makes the staff of his old age a staff for your spirit. And he adds to the inanimate temple a living one; to that exceedingly beautiful and heavenly shrine, this poor and small one, yet to him of great value, and built too with much sweat and many labours. Would that I could say it is worthy of his labours. And he places at your disposal all that belongs to him (O great generosity!— or it would be truer to say, O fatherly love!) his hoar hairs, his youth, the temple, the high priest, the testator, the heir, the discourses which you were longing for; and of these not such as are vain and poured out into the air, and which reach no further than the outward ear; but those which the Spirit writes and engraves on tables of stone, or of flesh, not merely superficially graven, nor easily to be rubbed off, but marked very deep, not with ink, but with grace.

These are the gifts given you by this august Abraham, this honourable and reverend Head, this Patriarch, this Restingplace of all good, this Standard of virtue, this Perfection of the Priesthood, who today is bringing to the Lord his willing Sacrifice, his only Son, him of the promise. Do you on your side offer to God and to us obedience to your Pastors, dwelling in a place of herbage, and being fed by water of refreshment; knowing your Shepherd well, and being known by him; (John 10:14) and following when he calls you as a Shepherd frankly through the door; but not following a stranger climbing up into the fold like a robber and a traitor; nor listening to a strange voice when such would take you away by stealth and scatter you from the truth on mountains, (Ezekiel 34:6) and in deserts, and pitfalls, and places which the Lord does not visit; and would lead you away from the sound Faith in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the One Power and Godhead, Whose Voice my sheep always heard (and may they always hear it), but with deceitful and corrupt words would tear them from their true Shepherd. From which may we all be kept, Shepherd and flock, as from a poisoned and deadly pasture; guiding and being guided far away from it, that we may all be one in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and unto the heavenly rest. To Whom be the glory and the might for ever and ever. Amen

[St. Gregory Nazianzus, Oration 1]

Day 9/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – Resurrection and martyrdom – St. Athanasius the Apostolic

If, then, it is by the sign of the cross and by faith in Christ that death is trampled underfoot, it is clear that it is Christ Himself and none other Who is the Archvictor over death and has robbed it of its power. Death used to be strong and terrible, but now, since the sojourn of the Savior and the death and resurrection of His body, it is despised; and obviously it is by the very Christ Who mounted on the cross that it has been destroyed and vanquished finally.

When the sun rises after the night and the whole world is lit up by it, nobody doubts that it is the sun which has thus shed its light everywhere and driven away the dark. Equally clear is it, since this utter scorning and trampling down of death has ensued upon the Savior’s manifestation in the body and His death on the cross, that it is He Himself Who brought death to nought and daily raises monuments to His victory in His own disciples.

How can you think otherwise, when you see men naturally weak hastening to death, unafraid at the prospect of corruption, fearless of the descent into Hades, even indeed with eager soul provoking it, not shrinking from tortures, but preferring thus to rush on death for Christ’s sake, rather than to remain in this present life? If you see with your own eyes men and women and children, even, thus welcoming death for the sake of Christ’s religion, how can you be so utterly silly and incredulous and maimed in your mind as not to realize that Christ, to Whom these all bear witness, Himself gives the victory to each, making death completely powerless for those who hold His faith and bear the sign of the cross?

No one in his senses doubts that a snake is dead when he sees it trampled underfoot, especially when he knows how savage it used to be; nor, if he sees boys making fun of a lion, does he doubt that the brute is either dead or completely bereft of strength. These things can be seen with our own eyes, and it is the same with the conquest of death. Doubt no longer, then, when you see death mocked and scorned by those who believe in Christ, that by Christ death was destroyed, and the corruption that goes with it resolved and brought to end.

[St. Athanasius the Apostolic, On the Incarnation of the Word]

+Lord help us to consider our fathers the martyrs “whose faith” we “follow, considering the outcome of their conduct” (cf.Heb 13:7). Let that same belief in the strength and glory of Your Resurrection live in us, that we proceed every day as martyrs, not necessarily in the physical sense, but in dying to the world spiritually, so that we may live for You+

Day 8/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – Thomas Sunday – St. Cyril the Pillar of Faith

“And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then said He to Thomas, Reach here your finger, and see My Hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My Side: and be not faithless, but believing.” (Jn 20:26-27)

Christ appeared once more unto His disciples miraculously by His Divine power. For He did not, like us, bid them open the doors for Him to enter in, but disdaining, as it were, the natural sequence of events, passed within the doors, and unexpectedly appeared in the middle of the room, presenting the same kind of miracle before the sight of the blessed Thomas as He had performed on the former occasion. For he that was most deficient in faith had need of healing medicine.

He made use of the greeting so often on His Lips, and solemnly gave them the blessed assurance of peace, as a pattern unto us, as we have said before. One may well be amazed at the minuteness of detail shown in this passage. For such was the extreme accuracy that the compiler of this book took pains to observe, that he is not content with simply saying that Christ manifested Himself to the holy disciples, but explains that it was after eight days, and that they were gathered together. For what else can their being all brought together in one house mean?

We say this to point out the diligent care that the Apostle so admirably displays, and because Christ hereby has made clear unto us the occasion of our assembling, and gathering ourselves together on His account. For He visits, and in some sort dwells with, those assembled together for His sake, especially on the eighth day, that is, the Lord’s day. Let us reckon it up, if you so please: On the one occasion He appeared unto the other disciples; on the other, He manifested Himself to them, when Thomas was also present. It is written in the preceding passage: When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut, He stood in the midst.

Note, that it was on the first day of the week, that is, the Lord’s day, when the disciples were gathered together, that He was seen of them, and that likewise also He appeared to them on the eighth day following. And we must not, because he says eight days after, suppose that he means the ninth day, but that when he says this he includes the eighth day itself, on which He appeared, in the number given.

With good reason, then, are we accustomed to have sacred meetings in churches on the eighth day. And, to adopt the language of allegory, as the idea necessarily demands, we indeed close the doors, but yet Christ visits us and appears unto us all, both invisibly and also visibly; invisibly as God, but also visibly in the Body. He suffers us to touch His holy Flesh, and gives us thereof. For through the grace of God we are admitted to partake of the blessed Eucharist, receiving Christ into our hands, to the intent that we may firmly believe that He did in truth raise up the Temple of His Body.

For that the partaking of the blessed Eucharist is a confession of the Resurrection of Christ is clearly proved by His own Words, which He spake when He Himself performed the type of the mystery; for He brake bread, as it is written, and gave it to them, saying: This is My Body, which is given for you unto remission of sins: this do in remembrance of Me.

Participation, then, in the Divine mysteries, in addition to filling us with Divine blessedness, is a true confession and memorial of Christ’s dying and rising again for us and for our sake. Let us, therefore, after touching Christ’s Body, shrink back from unbelief in Him as utter ruin, and rather be found well grounded in the full assurance of faith

[St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. John]

Some points of contemplation and prayer from the above:

+ Lord, thank you for supporting our weak faith when we are most in need of it+

+Lord grant us to stand together on the eighth day, Sunday, in your name together, even if we cannot physically be together but through technology we may, that You appear and dwell among us You promised, and grant us Your heavenly peace+

Day 7/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – Hope of the Resurrection – St. Cyril of Jerusalem

The root of all good works is the hope of the Resurrection; for the expectation of the recompense nerves the soul to good works. For every labourer is ready to endure the toils, if he sees their reward in prospect; but when men weary themselves for nought, their heart soon sinks as well as their body. A soldier who expects a prize is ready for war, but no one is forward to die for a king who is indifferent about those who serve under him, and bestows no honours on their toils. In like manner every soul believing in a Resurrection is naturally careful of itself; but, disbelieving it, abandons itself to perdition. He who believes that his body shall remain to rise again, is careful of his robe, and defiles it not with fornication; but he who disbelieves the Resurrection, gives himself to fornication, and misuses his own body, as though it were not his own. Faith therefore in the Resurrection of the dead, is a great commandment and doctrine of the Holy Catholic (Universal) Church great and most necessary, though gainsaid by many, yet surely warranted by the truth. Greeks contradict it, Samaritans disbelieve it, heretics mutilate it; the contradiction is manifold, but the truth is uniform.

[St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetichal Lectures, 18]

+Lord thank you for your great love, and the hope of the Resurrection and happiness you have prepared for us. Help us to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12)+

Day 6/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – a transition from falsehood to truth – Pope Shenouda III

The resurrection is transition from the world of falsehood to the life of truth. From the world of evanescence to the world of immortality. From a world in which everything will be abolished after a time to an everlasting world in which there is no falsehood but well fixed truth. It is a world free from sin where men live with each other in association very pure, clear and everlasting. What else about the resurrection?

The Resurrection Is A Multi-Faceted Miracle: Here appears the miraculous power of God. How will the bodies be gathered once more after they changed into dust!? Isn’t it He who created and formed them from dust; from nothingness? Dust had been a nonentity before it existed. He who looks attentively at the resurrection from this side can consider the limitless power of God, our creator. It is enough for Him to wish and everything will be accomplished according to His will, even without an utterance. It is His will which is in root and essence an effective order, capable of doing everything. We consider the resurrection a miracle not owing to its difficulty but because our mind is unable to perceive how it takes l place!! But though the mind fails to comprehend that matter, yet faith can easily understand it. Thus, the resurrection is the creed of the believers.

[H. H. Pope Shenouda III of Thrice-Blessed Memory, Contemplations on the Resurrection]

Day 5/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – Let us remember the Resurrection to come – St. Cyril of Jerusalem

We shall be raised therefore, all with our bodies eternal, but not all with bodies alike: for if a man is righteous, he will receive a heavenly body, that he may be able worthily to hold converse with Angels; but if a man is a sinner, he shall receive an eternal body, fitted to endure the penalties of sins, that he may burn eternally in fire, nor ever be consumed. And righteously will God assign this portion to either company; for we do nothing without the body. We blaspheme with the mouth, and with the mouth we pray. With the body we commit fornication, and with the body we keep chastity. With the hand we rob, and by the hand we bestow alms; and the rest in like manner. Since then the body has been our minister in all things, it shall also share with us in the future the fruits of the past.

Therefore, brethren, let us be careful of our bodies, nor misuse them as though not our own. Let us not say like the heretics, that this vesture of the body belongs not to us, but let us be careful of it as our own; for we must give account to the Lord of all things done through the body. Say not, none sees me; think not, that there is no witness of the deed. Human witness oftentimes there is not; but He who fashioned us, an unerring witness, abides faithful in heaven , and beholds what you do. And the stains of sin also remain in the body; for as when a wound has gone deep into the body, even if there has been a healing, the scar remains, so sin wounds soul and body, and the marks of its scars remain in all; and they are removed only from those who receive the washing of Baptism. The past wounds therefore of soul and body God heals by Baptism; against future ones let us one and all jointly guard ourselves, that we may keep this vestment of the body pure, and may not for practising fornication and sensual indulgence or any other sin for a short season, lose the salvation of heaven, but may inherit the eternal kingdom of God; of which may God, of His own grace, deem all of you worthy.

[St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetichal Lectures, 18]

+Lord help us to control our bodies and overcome the lusts of the flesh by dwelling within You. We don’t have the power to fight, but by remembering that we are members of Your Body, we know that you have the power to fight for us, and we have only to ask and You will fight for us. Let us remember the coming Judgement and Resurrection; “Nail Your fear to my flesh, for I have feared Your judgements” (Ps 119:120), Your Holy Fear that we remember how worthless earthly lusts are, and how costly they are.+

Day 4/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – Why was it Christ’s Blood was shed? – St. Gregory the Theologian and St. Athanasius the Apostolic


Now we are to examine another fact and dogma, neglected by most people, but in my judgment well worth enquiring into. To Whom was that Blood offered that was shed for us, and why was It shed? I mean the precious and famous Blood of our God and High priest and Sacrifice.

We were detained in bondage by the Evil One, sold under sin, and receiving pleasure in exchange for wickedness. Now, since a ransom belongs only to him who holds in bondage, I ask to whom was this offered, and for what cause? If to the Evil One, fie upon the outrage! If the robber receives ransom, not only from God, but a ransom which consists of God Himself, and has such an illustrious payment for his tyranny, a payment for whose sake it would have been right for him to have left us alone altogether.

But if to the Father, I ask first, how? For it was not by Him that we were being oppressed; and next, On what principle did the Blood of His Only begotten Son delight the Father, Who would not receive even Isaac, when he was being offered by his Father, but changed the sacrifice, putting a ram in the place of the human victim? Is it not evident that the Father accepts Him, but neither asked for Him nor demanded Him; but on account of the Incarnation, and because Humanity must be sanctified by the Humanity of God, that He might deliver us Himself, and overcome the tyrant, and draw us to Himself by the mediation of His Son, Who also arranged this to the honor of the Father, Whom it is manifest that He obeys in all things? So much we have said of Christ; the greater part of what we might say shall be reverenced with silence.

But that brazen serpent (Numbers 21:9) was hung up as a remedy for the biting serpents, not as a type of Him that suffered for us, but as a contrast; and it saved those that looked upon it, not because they believed it to live, but because it was killed, and killed with it the powers that were subject to it, being destroyed as it deserved. And what is the fitting epitaph for it from us? O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? You are overthrown by the Cross; you are slain by Him who is the Giver of life; you are without breath, dead, without motion, even though you keep the form of a serpent lifted up on high on a pole.

[St. Gregory Nazianzus, Second Oration on Pascha]


Some points of contemplation and prayer from the above:

+ God the Father was not thirsty for blood, nor was He “angry” at the Son – the act of the Incarnation and our Lord Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was an act of love, of His own volition for our sake. The Lord Christ did not “have” to die for us, He chose to do so. And God the Father did not “require” death or blood to fulfill a “Divine Justice” – it is not justice for the Innocent to die for the guilty. The consequences of sin, (which is defined as any separation from God, the Source of Life itself) were corruption, and then death (Rom 6:23), natural consequences of separation from God, the Source of Life. Natural consequences, and not desired by God. So a Divine Plan for salvation because of His love was set in motion, a plan which existed before the creation itself. The Lord Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was in order to cure these fundamental ailments, of corruption of human nature and death. He came in the perfect union of human nature and Divine nature in the One Incarnate Nature of God the Word (our Lord Jesus Christ). And in dying on the cross, St. Athanasius the Great tells us:


“The body of the Word, then, being a real human body, in spite of its having been uniquely formed from a virgin, was of itself mortal and, like other bodies, liable to death. But the indwelling of the Word loosed it from this natural liability, so that corruption could not touch it. Thus it happened that two opposite marvels took place at once: the death of all was consummated in the Lord’s body; yet, because the Word was in it, death and corruption were in the same act utterly abolished. Death there had to be, and death for all, so that the due of all might be paid. Wherefore, the Word, as I said, being Himself incapable of death, assumed a mortal body, that He might offer it as His own in place of all, and suffering for the sake of all through His union with it, ” might bring to nought Him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might deliver them who all their lifetime were enslaved by the fear of death.” (Heb 2:14)

Have no fears then. Now that the common Savior of all has died on our behalf, we who believe in Christ no longer die, as men died aforetime, in fulfillment of the threat of the law. That condemnation has come to an end; and now that, by the grace of the resurrection, corruption has been banished and done away, we are loosed from our mortal bodies in God’s good time for each, so that we may obtain thereby a better resurrection. Like seeds cast into the earth, we do not perish in our dissolution, but like them shall rise again, death having been brought to nought by the grace of the Savior. That is why blessed Paul, through whom we all have surety of the resurrection, says: “This corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality; but when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor 15:53).

[St. Athanasius the Apostolic, On the Incarnation of the Word]


+Thank You Lord for Your infinite mercy and love for mankind. Glory be to You forever, Amen+

Day 3/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – Especially now, let us REJOICE in our afflictions – St. Athanasius the Apostolic

red sea crossing

But the faithful and true servants of the Lord, knowing that the Lord loves the thankful, never cease to praise Him, ever giving thanks unto the Lord. And whether the time is one of ease or of affliction, they offer up praise to God with thanksgiving, not reckoning these things of time, but worshipping the Lord, the God of times. Thus of old time, Job, who possessed fortitude above all men, thought of these things when in prosperity; and when in adversity, he patiently endured, and when he suffered, gave thanks.

As also the humble David, in the very time of affliction sang praises and said, ‘I will bless the Lord at all times’ (Ps 34:1). And the blessed Paul, in all his Epistles, so to say, never ceased to thank God. In times of ease, he failed not, and in afflictions he gloried, knowing that ‘tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope and that hope does not disappoint’ (Rom 5:3).

Let us, being followers of such men, pass no season without thanksgiving, but especially now, when the time is one of tribulation, which the heretics excite against us, will we praise the Lord, uttering the words of the saints; ‘All these things have come upon us, yet have we not forgotten You’ (Ps 44:17). For as the Jews at that time, although suffering an assault from the tabernacles (compare Ps 83:6) of the Edomites, and oppressed by the enemies of Jerusalem, did not give themselves up, but all the more sang praises to God; so we, my beloved brethren, though hindered from speaking the word of the Lord, will the more proclaim it, and being afflicted, we will sing Psalms (James 5:13), in that we are accounted worthy to be despised, and to labour anxiously for the truth.

Yea, moreover, being grievously vexed, we will give thanks. For the blessed Apostle, who gave thanks at all times, urges us in the same manner to draw near to God saying, ‘Let your requests, with thanksgiving, be made known unto God’ (Phi 4:6). And being desirous that we should always continue in this resolution, he says, ‘At all times give thanks; pray without ceasing’ (1 Thes 5:17). For he knew that believers are strong while employed in thanksgiving, and that rejoicing they pass over the walls of the enemy, like those saints who said, ‘Through You will we pierce through our enemies, and by my God I will leap over a wall’ (Ps 18:29).

At all times let us stand firm, but especially now, although many afflictions overtake us, and many heretics are furious against us. Let us then, my beloved brethren, celebrate with thanksgiving the holy feast which now draws near to us, ‘girding up the loins of our minds’ (1 Pet 1:13), like our Saviour Jesus Christ, of Whom it is written, ‘Righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins’ (Is 11:5). Each one of us having in his hand the staff which came out of the root of Jesse, and our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel (Is 11:1, Eph 6:15), let us keep the feast as Paul says, ‘Not with the old leaven, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Cor 5:8);’ reverently trusting that we are reconciled through Christ, and not departing from faith in Him, nor do we defile ourselves together with heretics, and strangers to the truth, whose conversation and whose will degrade them.

But rejoicing in afflictions, we break through the furnace of iron and darkness, and pass, unharmed, over that terrible Red Sea. Thus also, when we look upon the confusion of heretics, we shall, with Moses, sing that great song of praise, and say, ‘We will sing unto the Lord, for He is to be gloriously praised’ (Ex 15:1). Thus, singing praises, and seeing that the sin which is in us has been cast into the sea, we pass over to the wilderness. And being first purified by the fast of forty days, by prayers, and fastings, and discipline, and good works, we shall be able to eat the holy Passover in Jerusalem.

[St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, Festal Letter III, 331AD]


Some points of contemplation and prayer from the above:

+ Lord, help us to be thankful for every condition, thankful that even in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have Your Resurrection and the promise of eternal life with You +

+Lord help us to stand firm, no matter our circumstances, knowing that You are the hope of the hopeless, the harbour in the storm, and only in You will we find strength and rest +

+ Lord, help us to praise You! In our homes, with the technology You have blessed us with, at every occasion!+